Judicial opinions first appear as slip opinions, which are individual pamphlets issued directly by the court that publish a single decision. These slip opinions are periodically compiled into a soft-covered book called an advance sheet. Advance sheets contain multiple decisions arranged in chronological order and are continuously paginated. Ultimately, these advance sheets are compiled into bound reporter volumes, which are also arranged chronologically. Recent opinions are easily accessible on the internet.
To find a case in a reporter you will need the case citation. The citation provides the volume number of the reporter containing the decision, abbreviated reporter name, series, and page on which the case starts. A sample citation is:
100 N.W.2d 1
which refers to volume 100 of the North Western Reporter, 2nd series, page 1.
|Court or Jurisdiction||Reporter (with abbreviations)|
|United States Supreme Court||United States Reports (U.S.); Supreme Court Reporter (S. Ct.); United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer's Edition (L. Ed., L. Ed. 2d)|
|United States Courts of Appeals||Federal Reporter (F., F.2d, F.3d); Federal Appendix (F. App'x)|
|United States District Courts||Federal Supplement (F. Supp., F. Supp. 2d; F. Supp. 3d); Federal Rules Decisions (F.R.D.)|
|Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont||Atlantic Reporter (A., A.2d, A.3d)|
|Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio||North Eastern Reporter (N.E., N.E.2d, N.E.3d); New York also has the New York Supplement (N.Y.S., N.Y.S.2d)|
|Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia||South Eastern Reporter (S.E., S.E.2d)|
|Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi||Southern Reporter (So., So. 2d, So. 3d)|
|Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas||South Western Reporter (S.W., S.W.2d., S.W.3d)|
|Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin||North Western Reporter (N.W., N.W.2d)|
|Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming||Pacific Reporter (P., P.2d, P.3d); California has the California Reporter (Cal. Rptr., Cal. Rptr. 2d, Cal. Rptr. 3d)|
Sometimes multiple reporters cover the same jurisdiction. For example, United States Reports, United States Supreme Court Reports, Lawyer's Edition, and West's Supreme Court Reporter each publish the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.
Some states have their own reporter, which exclusively publishes the decisions of that state. Others rely upon a regional reporter that covers several states. For example, the decisions of the Iowa Supreme Court were printed in Iowa Reports until 1968 (located at KFI4245 .A2). Since that time they have only been published (in print format) in the North Western Reporter (located at KF135 .N7), which also contains decisions from North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan.
This map shows the geographical coverage area of each West Regional Reporter.